Arkansas Rice: Waiting Game Continue, Will There Be More Soybeans?

Young rice plants, pre-flood. ©Debra L Ferguson

While the majority of the state stood still for another week, our planting progress did update to 63% (Fig. 1).  This seems to mostly be a catchup on progress from the previous report.  The reality is that time is beginning to dwindle on the 2021 rice crop.

If you consider that we originally intended to plant 1.25 million acres, and stand at 63% progress, then only 750,000-800,000 acres of rice have been planted to date.  The weather outlook suggests that planting may not really continue until after May 15.

While there are still a good number of acres intended for rice, the prospects of them shifting to more and more soybeans are growing.  If something doesn’t change very soon, it is entirely possible that we fail to plant 1 million acres of rice in Arkansas for the first time since 1983 and the 1970s.

The wet springs of the previous two seasons still saw us plant 1.12 and 1.44 million acres of rice, and we planted well into June to achieve those numbers.  However, rice prices penciled out well in favor compared to soybeans.  Here in 2021, even with rice prices improving, soybean is running to a level that demands increased attention and is going to get it.

AR Rice Planting Progress

Fig. 1. AR Rice Planting Progress, 2010-2021. Click Image to Enlarge

NOAA 7 day precipitation forecast

Fig. 2. NOAA 7-day precipitation forecast. Click Image to Enlarge

Random Problems

Depending on exactly when you planted and sprayed, Command (clomazone) is either turning rice a little white or a lot of white leading to some eventual plant death from multiple factors (Fig. 3).  The trend in this has been very obvious in our planting date studies where very early plantings and mid-April plantings have only been mildly affected while the early April planting has been hit fairly hard.

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Time to rice emergence, and conditions upon emergence, have played large roles.  Generally speaking, the plant death is likely due to delays in growth from Command and weather that have allowed seedling diseases to take hold.

The past few days of sunny conditions and decent warm temperatures should help outgrow the situation, but next week’s cool down with more rain could lead to additional concerns on small rice.

Bermudagrass has shown up as a problem in some spots.  Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) has also been more persistent this spring.  For both of these issues, there is not much to do in terms of herbicide applications.  They are both small grasses that rice can outgrow.  For each of them different herbicides may be more or less effective at burning them some but there are no real viable control options.

The goal is really to let POST herbicides we’re already using work on them some and then let the flood take them out.  In the case of row rice, particularly with bermudagrass, if the infestation is extremely heavy it could be competitive enough to ‘possibly’ warrant a replant, but if we can push the rice we should still be able to out-compete it and farm on.

These grasses, under the right conditions, will not be controlled by tillage alone, and that has led them to become re-established in some fields after field preparation where no burndown was used to finish them off.  Bluegrass in many instances has simply continued to emerge with the cool wet conditions despite early burndown attempts.

Command injury

Fig. 3. Command injury to rice varying by planting date and cultivar. Click Image to Enlarge




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